There’s a lot of hyperbole on the internet. God knows I’ve been responsible for my fair share over the years. Still, it’s hard to figure out where sheer hatred ends and hyperbole begins when it comes to The Shaggy Dog, a movie so soulless and shameless that it actually made me yearn for the Tim Allen movies of the past.
The movie is a remake of the Disney live action “classic,” a term I use with incredible looseness, as I think it has more to do with the movie’s age rather than any quality. The remake takes the same basic premise – a man turns into a sheep dog – and proceeds to use it as an excuse to make us look at the doughy, naked flesh of Tim Allen. Honestly, The Shaggy Dog should come with a giant warning on the poster that reads “Contains copious amounts of naked Tim Allen.”
It’s 2006 so Tim’s a bad dad. He has to be, otherwise his time as a dog won’t lead to him learning anything. He’s a workaholic prosecutor in the district attorney’s office whose latest case – against a high school teacher accused of torching a lab that may or may not have been conducting animal tests – splits the community. Sort of. At least it makes his daughter not like him and attend protests. This is some edgy, topical stuff, folks.
The lab is doing experiments. Evil ones, led by Robert Downey Jr, aka The Only Redeeming Quality of This Shit. The evil lab people have – and I am not making this up – traveled to Tibet to capture a 300 year old sheepdog for experiments in immortality. That’s how the film opens, with a paramilitary group capturing this dog. If only the rest of the movie was that weird.
Through chance and crass plot manipulation, the dog escapes the lab and bites Tim Allen, who then gets infected with dog cooties and turns into a sheepdog whenever his heart gets racing, and becomes a grossly naked man when he sleeps. It takes Tim a very long time to realize that he can’t talk, except to us in the audience via an unfunny and phoned in voiceover.
There’s more, but it’s hard to remember. As a dog, Allen comes to understand his family and why he needs to be there. He never comes to understand what the fuck Danny Glover is doing in this film for a few scenes. He also never comes to understand why you would cast Jane Curtin and not give her a single funny moment. He does come to rescue a ragtag group of animal experiments from the evil lab, and he does come to almost make out with his wife, Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis, while in dog form, which must lead you to make endless “doggystyle” comments.
I know that I shouldn’t expect much from a film like this, but I can’t help it. I don’t see any reason why every plot point and every joke has to be so obvious. Sure, most of the audience for a piece of shit like this doesn’t know any better, they’re the recess set. But these kids bring their parents, and films like Toy Story have proven that if you actually bother to inject originality and heart into a kid’s film, everyone will like it. This film stinks not just of poor quality but lazy workmanship; it’s the fake Rolex of the movie world. It’s a movie that you know no one cared about, at any stage of the process – it’s a movie filled with people getting paychecks and moving on to the next thing, greenlit and made by people who have made simple calculations as to how much they can profit off the movie with the least amount of expenditure. Hollywood has always made films like this, but that doesn’t let this one off the hook. And by the way, Tim Allen needs to be ended, immediately.
It is really worth mentioning again, though, that Robert Downey Jr is improbably hilarious in this film. While everyone else is sleepwalking through the dreck (especially Glover, who seems dazed to have learned that he was in Saw), Downey is taking the opportunity to have fun. As a villain he’s delicious; later in the film, when infected with dog cooties, he’s a better manimal than Allen could ever hope to be. This same film with Downey in the lead probably would have still stunk, but may have captured his anarchic spirit. As it is now, The Shaggy Dog is like eating a great big log of shit, and Downey is the surprising and tasty bits of corn.